Whistleblowing: A concept analysis

Nurs Health Sci. 2020 Jun;22(2):381-389. doi: 10.1111/nhs.12667. Epub 2019 Dec 17.


The concept of whistleblowing, which began to emerge in the 1970s, has gained significant traction over time and across disciplines, including law, management, public administration, sociology, psychology, and health sciences. Interestingly, nurses and nursing students account for the majority of the participants in studies pertaining to whistleblowing. Nursing research conducted in the past two decades provide a good foundation on which to build a better understanding of the context in which whistleblowing takes place, the process of whistleblowing itself, and the repercussions experienced by whistleblowers, but major conceptual gaps remain. In fact, limited attention has been given to the conceptual underpinnings and the use of the concept of whistleblowing in nursing. The goal of the present conceptual analysis was to start addressing this gap and raise some critical questions about the future application of this concept in nursing, including potential opportunities and limitations. Our analysis allowed us to identify a number of antecedents, attributes, and consequences of whistleblowing in nursing. It also revealed three areas needing more attention: the concept itself, organizational culture, and research into the complexities of whistleblowing.

Keywords: concept; concept analysis; nurse; nursing; whistleblower; whistleblowing.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Concept Formation*
  • Ethics
  • Humans
  • Organizational Culture
  • Whistleblowing*